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Depending on what types of music one is into, the name Brainstorm can have very different connotations. The music world has given us a '90s jazz combo billed as Chico Freeman & Brainstorm, a '70s soul/funk band called Brainstorm (best known for their 1977 hit "Lovin' Is Really My Game") and various rock outfits called Brainstorm, ranging from a Latvian group to the long-running German headbangers reviewed here. This Brainstorm has been plugging away since 1989, providing melodic yet tough, hard-hitting power metal albums that haven't been groundbreaking but are generally likable. Downburst is no exception; this 2007 recording/early 2008 release doesn't offer many surprises, but there is no denying that the songs are nicely crafted and well executed. While Downburst is about intensity and aggression, it is also about songcraft -- and the influences that have served Brainstorm well in the past (Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Fates Warning, among others) continue to serve them well on this 43-minute CD. It should be noted that although Brainstorm has had some lineup changes over the years, the band hasn't been nearly the revolving door that so many metal bands are. Brainstorm's founders, Torsten Ihlenfeld and Milan Loncaric, were still on board after 19 years, and on Downburst, they are joined by Andy B. Franck (Brainstorm's lead singer since 1999) and drummer Dieter Bernert. Franck, who has worked out well for the band, is in very good form throughout Downburst -- an album that doesn't pretend to reinvent the metal wheel but is a solid, if derivative, demonstration of what Brainstorm has to offer.

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